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MINDING YOUR DOG BUSINESS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BUSINESS SUCCESS FOR DOG PROFESSIONALS

MINDING YOUR DOG BUSINESS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BUSINESS SUCCESS FOR DOG PROFESSIONALS

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MINDING YOUR DOG BUSINESS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BUSINESS SUCCESS FOR DOG PROFESSIONALS

Comprimento:
176 página
1 hora
Lançado em:
Jan 1, 2010
ISBN:
9781617810060
Formato:
Livro

Descrição

Setting up and running a successful dog-related business is an achievement in itself (one addressed from A to Z in Veronica Boutelle’s first book, How to Run a Dog Business - Putting Your Career Where Your Heart Is) but the real test is to build success and growth for the long haul.

This book will tell you:
• How to develop your business for long-term financial security and personal fulfillment.
• How you can become more comfortable and effective at selling your services.
• What the smartest, easiest, least expensive ways to market yourself are.
• How to level out the scheduling-and-revenue roller coaster of seasonal fluctuations.

In straightforward language, sprinkled throughout with humor, Veronica and Rikke show you how to make choices that are right for you in an ever more competitive market.

Lançado em:
Jan 1, 2010
ISBN:
9781617810060
Formato:
Livro

Sobre o autor

Author Veronica Boutelle, MA, CTC, is the author of How to Run a Dog Business and co-author of Minding Your Dog Business. She is a top consultant in the dog service industry, and a sought-after speaker and workshop leader at conferences around the country. Veronica is the co-creator of the Dog Walking Academy, a comprehensive 4-day workshop leading to professional dog walking certification. Through her company, dog*tec, Veronica and her colleagues help aspiring and existing dog walkers create thriving careers and businesses in the dog service field.

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Amostra do Livro

MINDING YOUR DOG BUSINESS - Veronica Boutelle

Veronica

Section 1

GOOD BUSINESS

HOUSEKEEPING


Chapter 1

A MATTER OF POLICY

Clear, simple, well thought-through policies are the structural foundation of a good business. Sound policies protect your time and income, signal integrity (which adds to your professional image and brand), and act as a screening method for potential problem customers. Without policies—or with policies you routinely ignore—your business is less a robust structure than a Bouncy Castle. And yes, some clients will see that as an invitation to jump all over you.

So, carefully think about and craft your policies. If you have policies that you developed during your start-up phase, review them annually. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Here are some general guidelines, followed by detailed recommendations by type of business:

•   Keep it simple. Direct, plain English works best. Avoid legalese.

•   Put your policies in your contract. Your contract is a legal document—and so are your policies if clients have to acknowledge them with a signature.

•   Walk clients through your policies verbally. Do this before they sign the contract, then ask them to initial each policy section.

•   Polish your delivery. If talking about things like payment and cancellations make you hyperventilate, practice first. Ask a friend to sit through your contract presentation until you have it down to a smooth minute or two.

•   Find the words beforehand. Create polite, neutral language to answer common questions (for specific suggestions, see individual policy sections). But by all means don’t invite questions. Don’t pause suggestively after each policy, simply state it as fact and move on. Your prepared answers are a fallback to quickly clarify the good reasons that underlie your policies.

•   Be a rock—except when… Decide once and for all which circumstances justify making policy exceptions. Don’t allow yourself to be put on the spot whenever a client asks, it is exhausting for you and bad for your brand. You run a business, not a garage sale.

•   Revisit your policies every year. To ensure your policies reflect your current business structure and philosophy, review them annually.

Scheduling policies

All businesses

Have a set schedule. A trainer, for example, would write all available appointments into his or her schedule in advance: Tuesdays 6:30pm and 7:30pm; hourly slots on Wednesdays from 3-7pm; no appointments on Thursdays and Fridays. A daycare would have set times for screening appointments or client orientations, instead of scheduling such appointments throughout the day and week based on client availability.

Choose time slots likely to be convenient for a large portion of the population, and that also allow an efficient use of your time. Once you have decided on your schedule, consider it as unchangeable as the order of the days of the week.

Trainers

Don’t let clients dictate your schedule. What time is good for you? is a question you should never ask. Trainers should have pre-set appointment times because:

•   It creates order out of chaos. Though your intent may be customer-centricity, allowing clients to dictate your schedule creates an inefficient, unpredictable calendar. Appointments often end up scattered throughout the day, with small batches of time in between that are difficult to use productively. Instead, cluster your appointments to leave larger blocks of time open for business development and marketing—for working on the business—and for your own personal use.

Give clients your available appointment options. If none work, offer others you have in the future. If none of those work, fight the temptation to accommodate! Tell the client you regret that given your schedules it looks like your services won’t be a good fit for him. However, you can recommend so-and-so (that is, if there is someone local you are comfortable recommending). You will be amazed how often the client changes his mind and finds room in his schedule after all.

•   It projects success. Asking clients what time is good for them implies that your schedule is wide open, carrying the subtle suggestion that your business is slow. Consciously or subconsciously most consumers are drawn to businesses that are already successful—don’t inadvertently signal that yours is otherwise.

•   It starts you off on the right note. A strong, effective client-trainer relationship in which the client acknowledges the trainer’s expertise and status as a professional is key to successful training. Gaining a client’s trust and compliance about methodology and specific training advice is difficult without this understanding, and scheduling represents an opportunity to either build or erode it. Set appointment times not only stabilize your schedule, they communicate the value of your time as a professional service provider.

Naturally, providing top-notch, sincere customer service is crucial to your business and your brand. But there are many ways to do this without compromising your ability to run your business while also having time to actively grow it and to attend to your life outside of work. Good client service does not mean being accommodating to the point of inefficiency or inadvertently undermining your professional status.

Daycares and boarding facilities

Don’t let clients dictate pick-up and drop-off times. Daycare and boarding facilities should have set times for pick-up and drop-off because:

•   It makes scheduling manageable. Planning a facility’s staffing needs is difficult enough without adding the uncertainty of when the lobby might be flooded with clients and dogs. Forewarned is forearmed.

•   It allows your staff to focus. For the majority of the day, your staff’s attention should be on the dogs, not on manning the front desk and servicing human clients. A big part of what clients pay for is qualified supervision of and interaction with their dogs.

•   It is better for the dogs. Constant interruptions and things to bark at (car doors slamming, new dogs and people coming and going) make for a stressful and chaotic environment. Having a calm, pleasant routine is infinitely easier on the dogs—and again, on the staff.

A note on fines. Many daycare facilities carry fines for pick-up and drop-off outside set hours. If you do that, the payment has to be serious enough that it deters the behavior. Some daycares find that a fine of, say, $5 actually makes the behavior more likely because that is a very reasonable fee for the convenience of having an extra thirty minutes for pick-up.

Boarding kennels only

We recommend a policy which states that after a certain time of day pick-up is not possible. Instead, the dog is kept overnight and the client charged for the extra day. This trains client compliance with drop-off times and is particularly important for facilities that are home-based or don’t have overnight staffing. You need to protect your private hours.

Walkers and drop-in sitters

Don’t give set times for walks or visits. Give clients a range of time, promising for example that the dog will be picked up no later than 9am and dropped off no later than 3pm. Committing to anything more solid is impractical in the long term. Never ask, when do you want me to walk/visit your dog? because every single client will say, noon.

Overnight sitters

Don’t give set hours. Give the amount of time you intend to stay (e.g., 8, 10, or 12 hours), but don’t get pigeonholed into set hours. The exception is a client who asks for legitimate reasons, such as a medication that must be administered to the pet at a certain time.

Payment policies

All businesses

Require up-front payment. We recommend this payment policy for all dog professionals.

Accept credit cards. Set up a merchant services account so you can take credit cards. This can be done through any bank, so shop around for good rates. However, your existing bank is usually a good place to start because you have an established relationship. A merchant services account allows most clients access to your services even with an up-front payment policy. Yes, the bank charges a small sum per transaction, but being able to sell larger packages is well worth the fee.

Trainers

Most trainers require payment up front and that is good practice. Taking credit cards, particularly if you offer training packages, makes your services more easily available to clients. Payment plans can also help when used carefully. Follow these guidelines to offer help without getting burned:

•   Require a credit card for payment plans.

•   Work with your client to pre-set payment dates and amounts, and build an authorization into your contract so you can make automatic deductions. This saves you and your client multiple collection conversations, keeps the focus on the training, and ensures you are paid on time.

•   Your contract should stipulate clearly—make sure you cover this verbally, too—that the client is committing to the entire training plan. This discourages the client who experiences improvement in her dog’s behavior partway into the training process from deciding to wrap up early. It is not only in your business interest to avoid this, but serves the client and dog as well—an uncompleted training plan rarely delivers lasting results.

Walkers and daycares

Ask for monthly up-front payment. Ask clients to pay for the next month in advance. The principle here is that walking and daycare clients aren’t paying for services rendered but to reserve a spot among the limited number of dogs a walker or daycare can

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